For my entire life, I have lived by a saying my father told me and it guides me every day while working at McCague Borlack.
“You only get out of something what you put into it.”
This has sparked 6 simple steps to having a successful summer at any firm.
Never say No
Since summering and articling are both designed for students to absorb as much information as possible in order to become self-sufficient lawyers, saying no to a task is only a missed opportunity. It is important to recognize that, even with the smallest of tasks, we are learning what the practice of law is like and it is not always glamorous.
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
While summering and articling, you will be handed tasks sporadically or all at the same time. Whether you are on a rotation or receive tasks through other means, it is incredibly important to stay organized, keep track of all ongoing assignments and schedule-in all deadlines. I also recommend triaging tasks depending on the time sensitivity and importance of the matters to ensure that a deadline is never missed. Sometimes, this is a very fluid process because an assignment may come across your desk that needs to be completed immediately. For me, lists and charts are vital!
Research is Key
For many students, this is the first time working in a law firm and they may even be the first in their family to go to law school or university! (I fall into the latter category). This means that you may come by concepts or problems in your work that you have never heard of. Do not fret if this happens to you because this is the very nature of the practice of law. The field is constantly growing and changing, which is why there is a need for continuing legal education. If you find yourself in a situation where you do not know, this is where your excellent research skills will be of use. Try to research as much as you can before you ask a question. You are not expected to know everything but the last message you want to send to your supervising lawyers is that you did not try.
When I was applying to law firms and organizations during the OCI process, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I love learning and there were a few areas of law I knew I did not want to practice but other than that, I did not restrict myself. It is this open-mindedness that led me to McCague Borlack. Now I love the practice of insurance law, which is more multi-faceted than I imagined. If I were closed-minded to this option, I would have missed out on this fantastic opportunity.
I think this one is obvious. Your relationship with your firm should be mutually beneficial. You should be learning from experienced lawyers, paralegals, law clerks and assistants while producing great work for them. Of course, perfection is not always possible, but it is something to strive for.
This one may sound silly but I think it might be the most important step of them all! I need to remind myself once I finish a task that I did it! Doing this will help you start a healthy relationship with your work. You were chosen by your firm for a reason and if you work hard and follow the above steps, you should be proud of every achievement. Every step you make at this point in the “game” brings you that much closer to what you have worked for most of your life.